Thursday, November 29, 2007


In possibly the most humiliating commercial climbdown since the New Coke fiasco, Hong Kong's PARKnSHOP supermarket chain announced amid great fanfare that they would cease to give out free plastic bags from Wednesday 21st November, only to announce on Monday 26th (with less fanfare) that they were abandoning the scheme.

The move was widely welcomed as a significant contribution to reducing the 8.4 billion plastic bags clogging Hong Kong's landfills each year, but some legislators criticised it for its lack of transparency on how the voluntary 20 cent plastic bag fee for charity would be used.

Perhaps the idea of letting a little light into a corner of the Li empire was too much for the supermarket chain's management? At any rate, instead of fine-tuning the scheme in response to feedback, they chose to make themselves look like a bunch of idiots by reversing the policy after only a few days - and compounded stupidity with hypocrisy by saying the company was "still supportive of environmental protection on principle". This is about as meaningful as a carnivore saying that he supports vegetarianism on principle, or George W. Bush posing as a peacemaker.


Spike said...

Something I don't quite get here. Every article on the subject, including your blogpost, says it was a voluntary fee. The Standard article you link to, for example, states: customers will be encouraged to donate 20 HK cents.

Which means that you could say you don't want to pay the US$0.026 cents and you still want the bag and they'd have to give it to you.

So one wonders why they felt the need to embarass themselves by backing down in this fashion? And one also wonders why an ostensibly professionally managed company would have handled the initial roll out of this scheme so poorly.

Private Beach said...

Sheer incompetence, I suspect. After all, this is the same company that has several times recently been caught selling mislabelled fish.

They've now made the company look far worse than if they'd never introduced the scheme in the first place.